Ottawa – The UK’s new envoy to Ottawa said Canada remains a reliable partner in the fight against climate change, despite the increase in the country’s greenhouse gas emissions in recent years.
Newly arrived in Canada, Susanna Joshko, the United Kingdom’s High Commissioner, says the current Trudeau government has shown “tremendous leadership” internationally in the fight against climate change.
This is because Canada has doubled its financial commitments to fund climate action and raised its emissions cut targets, Joshko said, adding pressure on other nations.
Joshko presented the assessment in an extended interview as the UK prepares to host next month’s major UN climate talks in Scotland, known as COP26.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced criticism from his political opponents and environmental groups in the recent federal election as Canada’s carbon emissions actually increased between 2015 and 2019, the last years for which data is available.
While neoliberal policies may have cut emissions in the two years since then, current numbers feed the narrative that Canada’s reputation for tackling climate change has declined since Trudeau participated in the 2015 Paris climate agreement, within weeks of coming to power.
This is not the case from the UK’s point of view, Gushko said.
“I think there is no doubt that it is difficult to do what needs to be done to achieve our climate goals. The transition to the zero economy is really difficult. I think the important thing for Canada is that the commitment is there,” Gushko said.
Net zero is a term meaning that no new emissions will be added to the Earth’s atmosphere because nature or technology captures any emissions that are produced.
Canada this year pledged to achieve net zero by 2050, and raised emissions reduction targets from 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 to 40 percent to 45 percent.
These new commitments, as well as Canada’s partnership with Germany to provide $100 billion in financing to poorer countries to help them fight climate change, mean “Canada has shown tremendous leadership,” Joshko said.
“That’s the kind of leadership that we need because now we need all countries to really strengthen these commitments if we want the COP to succeed.”
Gushko said that for China, as the world’s largest exporter, it is important to play a role in COP26, but its government is still waiting to see if President Xi Jinping will join 120 world leaders for the early opening of the meeting. November.
Despite China’s voracious appetite for energy, including coal, Gushko said it’s also the world’s largest investor in renewable energy, making it an important partner in the fight against climate change.
Joshko came first because of Britain and Canada’s tense commitment to China in recent years. She worked for two years as Private Secretary to the recently departed British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab.
Raab’s personal friendship with his former Canadian counterpart, François-Philippe Champagne, was witnessed in personal meetings in London before and after the outbreak of the pandemic. Joshko said Raab was excited to continue a deeper alliance with Canada, especially in light of Brexit.
This manifested itself in Canada’s support in the face of China’s imprisonment of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, which ended only in September after nearly three years.
She said Rapp was an early supporter of Canada’s international efforts to issue a declaration against arbitrary detention by states.
She said Canada was enthusiastic about international efforts to criticize China for human rights abuses in Hong Kong and punish Xinjiang’s abuses against Uyghur Muslims, and was not ashamed that China was blocking apparent retaliation against two of its own citizens. The arrest of Chinese CEO Meng Wanzhou based on a US extradition warrant.
“I can’t think of a time when we came to Canada and said, ‘We’d like to do something about it,'” Gushko said, “and the answer was ‘No’.”
Joshko also rejected any suggestions that the United Kingdom had ignored Canada, and created a new alliance known as AUKUS with Australia and the United States.
The alliance aims to help Australia acquire a fleet of nuclear submarines to counter China’s growing regional influence.
France was outraged by the move, but Trudeau shrugged it off, saying Canada had no interest in nuclear submarines.
She said Britain’s military and security cooperation with Canada remains strong in other areas, including its cooperation through NATO in Eastern Europe as a counterweight to Russia and the recent agreement to deepen cooperation in the Arctic.
Joshko said Britain’s alliance with Canada in the Five Eyes Information Sharing Network (with Australia, the United States and New Zealand) remains a top priority that does not conflict with AUKUS in any way. All Five Eyes members are constantly working to increase their abilities.
“I do not see the American University in Jerusalem in any way, intent or contradiction with the Five Eyes,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense to us that one is being implemented at the expense of the other.”
This report was first published by The Canadian Press on October 24, 2021.
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